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While Italy sounded beautiful, it was never at the top of my must-see list. However, as soon as I got there, I was completely amazed at its beauty. Venice is unlike any city I've ever been to. There are no roads, no cars, no bikes, no scooters; just boats, canals, and colorful buildings that are basically floating on water.
While I was only in Venice for a few hours, I feel like I was able to take it all in as best as I possibly could. From the gondola ride through the canals to San Marco Square, every inch of Venice is a beautiful piece of this city that's a world, all its own. My friends and I made sure we tried the food, including an incredible bruschetta for dinner and the most delectable gelato I've ever had for dessert. Wandering around the tiny streets and alleyways of Venice makes it easy to get lost, especially for first-timers. But for whatever reason, I felt at ease and was able to navigate the labyrinth with no trouble.
After getting our fill of picture taking, food, and shopping, it was time to head back to San Marco Square to meet up with the rest of our group. Even though I had already passed through the square a number of times, as we entered it after sunset, with live music playing, people dancing and dining, and the lights of the city softly glowing in the dark, it felt as though I had stepped back in time. I practically skipped through the square and felt the strongest urge to dance, myself. All too soon, it was time to board our boat back to our home for the night. I went to bed early, as always, so I could rest up for my next adventure in Switzerland.
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I wouldn't say that I'm the daredevil type. But when I think about it, there is a part of me that loves thrilling experiences... And it's actually a bigger part of me than I realized. So when I was on my tour through Europe, and one of the add-on options was to paraglide in the Austrian Alps, my initial reaction was "H-No". But then I thought about it... I was in Europe for the first time. This was going to be an experience I'd never forget. It couldn't be that dangerous, since so many people do it... And suddenly, there I was - strapped into my paragliding seat, running off the top of a mountain. (Now, when I say "running" I mean I took one or two steps before we started lifting off and I could no longer touch the ground.)
I had imagined the feeling of flying through the air to be more intense; like when your stomach drops on a big rollercoaster. But it was one of the softest feelings I've ever experienced. The air gently surrounds you as you glide across the sky, and you feel weightless as you soar over the land below.
My paragliding professional had a selfie stick and a gopro to capture each moment, but I had a hard time wanting to look at the camera as I was so focused on taking the feeling in. As we started to descend he asked if I liked rollercoasters, which - of course I do, and suddenly we were flipping and spinning through the air. Now my stomach started to drop, and all I could do was giggle uncontrollably. Then we gently evened out, he prepped me for our landing, and suddenly I was sitting on the soft, freshly mowed grass.
I felt like I could paraglide all day, but it was back to town with the rest of the daredevils in the tour group. That evening my friend and I wandered around the town of Hopfgarten, taking in the surroundings as best we could. Then it was early to bed for me so I could rest up for the next days experience in Italy!